Arboriculture refers to the cultivation, management and study of vines, shrubs, trees and other woody plants. In charge of these activities are arboricultural workers, specialists who can work as ground staff, climbers or planters. With the Forestry Commission reporting that 13 percent of land in the United Kingdom is covered by plants of various species, arboricultural workers can expect to continue playing a significant role in maintaining the woodlands.
Doing the Job
Although all arboricultural workers have a common objective, they often have different roles within a team;
- Use a wide variety of tools and equipment to prepare the ground for planting new trees
- Support tree climbers
- Clear worksites and load debris into trucks
- Clean and repair all their equipment
- Plant trees, shrubs and vines, apply fertilizers and monitor their growth
- Protect planted trees by erecting fences or protective signs
- Maintai tallies of planted trees and shrubs
- Maintain recreational areas, such as campsites
- Scale trees using ropes, or work from an elevated position
- Use power tools to cut away dead parts of plants, such as branches
- Install lightning arresters on trees
- Apply tar and other protective substance on cut surface to keep away infections
Although they may work overtime, arboricultural workers usually work 35 hours a week. They often perform their duties outdoors and can be exposed to harsh terrain and weather conditions. While at work, they often wear protective gear, such as gloves, boots with hard soles and hard hats to prevent injury. When there is an emergency, perhaps a tree has fallen on a house at night, arboricultural workers can be called upon to clear the site.
How much do arboricultural workers earn? Well, the following table highlights the figures;
Annual Basic Salary
£16,000 - £18,000
Climbers and Planters
£20,000 – £30,000
Source: National Careers Service
To be an effective arboricultural worker you will need:
- A good understanding of health and safety issues
- An interest in conservation and environmental matters
- Good eye-hand coordination to operate various types of tools and equipment
- Excellent team-work skills coupled with communication skills to collaborate well
- Mechanical, technical and practical skills
Arboricultural workers gain their knowledge and skills by;
- Volunteering at local conservatories or horticultural groups
- Pursuing apprenticeship programs in tree work.
- Undertaking part-time qualifications in college, such as a Level 2 work based diploma in trees and timber aerial arborist, offered by the Capel Manor College.
From 2014 through 2020, the UK economy will create about 7,000 land-based jobs, according to the National Careers Service. This means prospective arboricultural workers have good employment prospects.
- Private contractors
- Local authorities
- National parks
- Private estates
- Landscaping firms
What are your long-term prospects as an arboricultural worker? Depending on the level of qualifications and training courses you pursue, you can move on to become an arboricultural consultant, arboricultural surveyor or arboricultural manager. You can, for instance, pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in arboriculture or urban forestry from the Myerscough College, and become a member of the Arboricultural Association to improve your professional standing.
Becoming an arboricultural worker will help you significantly contribute to making the world a greener place.